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In The News

The Battle For Severodonetsk, Iran Raises Nuclear Eyebrows, Paula Rego Dies

👋 Aniin!*

Welcome to Thursday, where heavy fighting and shelling rock eastern Ukraine, Germany calls out Iran for its nuclear ambitions, and the art world mourns the passing of “visceral” painter Paula Rego. Meanwhile, our This Happened video format explores one of the most iconic photographs of the Vietnam War, which just turned 50.

[*Ojibwe - Canada]

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Why Ukraine War Won't Slow Iran's Quest To Become A Nuclear Power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order.

-OpEd-

Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs.

Mottahari's father, Morteza Mottahari, was a prominent theologian and confidante of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This has allowed his son to speak with relative freedom under the Islamic Republic. In comments to a local press outlet broadcast on April 22, Mottahari blamed the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a Marxist opposition group, for revealing Iran's supposed nuclear plans.

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Ukrainians In 2022 vs. Syrians In 2015, Why Some Refugees Get A Warmer Welcome

As people open their homes to Ukrainian refugees, some in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are criticizing the lack of a similar welcome for Syrians in 2015. Do we have a responsibility to offer the same level of help to all those in need — and are we even capable of that? The answer might just be found in philosophy.

-Essay-

BERLIN — The war in Ukraine has moved many to open their homes to refugees, but this warm welcome has also sparked criticism, with some asking why so many Germans are now happy to have a Ukrainian under their roof when they wouldn’t have done the same for a Syrian in 2015.

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There are many reasons for this. Nigerian author Ayo Sogunro tweeted, “Can't get it out of my head that Europe cried about a 'migrant crisis' in 2015 against 1.4 million refugees fleeing war in Syria and yet quickly absorbed some 2 million Ukrainians within days, complete with flags and piano music. Europe never had a migrant crisis. It has a racism crisis."

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The U.S. Has Quietly Told Europe It Won't Fight On Its Behalf Again

It went largely unnoticed, but Washington's refusal to let MiG fighter jets destined for the Ukrainians take off from their base in Germany is a clear message, according to a retired French general: Even if a NATO country is attacked, the U.S. will never send their soldiers to fight on our soil.

-OpEd-

PARIS — With its back to the wall, America's mask has come off. This great nation, which 80 years ago stood at the height of its moral strength, which claims to be the bulwark of freedom and democracy, has lowered its head in the face of the challenge.

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We, the people of Europe, believed in her. During the Cold War, the U.S. military trained every year to rapidly deploy tens of thousands of soldiers from American soil to hold back Soviet forces.

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Geopolitics
Ofer Laszewicki*

Syria, The Laboratory For Putin's Brutality In Ukraine

Putin is increasing his attacks on Ukrainian civilians and may be preparing to use chemical weapons. But these horrific tactics are not new — they were perfected by the Russian army during a brutal war in Syria.

As he walked the apocalyptic streets of Kharkiv last week, BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville cited what he called the "Russian attack playbook." Indeed, the shattered city in northeastern Ukraine evokes the destruction of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

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The scenes are strikingly similar: at the local hospital, aware that they could be the next target, medical workers pile injured children and women into the corridors. The beds by the windows would be deadly in the event of an attack.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin

Withdrawal Confusion, Travel Sector Bounces Back, Anthem Mixup

👋 Bula!*

Welcome to Thursday, where NATO allies accuse Russia of lying about withdrawing troops from Ukraine border, Airbus and Airbnb post record profits, and a soccer match sees a major national anthem woopsie. For French daily Les Echos, Johanne Courbatère de Gaudric looks at the surprising health benefits hiding in a bottle of perfume.

[*Fijian]

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Out of Cash, Iran Puts Dream Of Shia Empire On Pause

Under sanctions and deprived of funds, Iran's clerical regime has placed its dreams of regional supremacy on hold, at least until it can reach a multilateral pact on its nuclear program.

-Analysis-

It has been two years since a U.S. drone strike on a convoy in Iraq killed the Iranian Revolutionary guards commander Qasem Soleimani and 10 others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, one of the heads of the Iran-backed militia, Hashd al-shaabi.

In spite of his efforts and backing from his government, Soleimani's successor as head of the Revolutionary guards' Quds force, Ismail Qaani, has failed to prevent the depletion of the Axis of Resistance.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin

Biden Prediction, Austria’s Vaccine Lottery, Googly Eyes Down Under

👋 Grüss Gott!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukraine lashed out at Biden’s prediction about Russian intentions, Austria is betting on a new incentive for the unvaccinated, and the Australian city of Adelaide is baffled by a mysterious spate of googly eyes. We also look at Russia’s latest efforts to dismantle the REvil hacking group, at Washington’s request, and what this means in the context of U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine.

[*Swabian - Germany]

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Geopolitics
Shahram Sabzevari

Don't Underestimate Russian Influence Over Iran's Military

Russia's role in in Iranian affairs goes to the highest levels of its military and security structures. But will anyone in Iran dare question Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in spite of the grave risks to the country's national security?

-Analysis-

LONDON — Several sources recently reported on the sale of 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. These were initially to be sold to Egypt, but that deal was thwarted by the threat of U.S. sanctions on Egypt. Since 15 of the planes were reportedly ready for delivery, they may be sent to the Iranian regime in early 2022.

Reports of sales of Russian commercial or military planes to Iran are not new, though some now qualify them as a consolation for Tehran to make amends for Russia's suspected approval of the strikes that have targeted Iranian Revolutionary guards bases, allied militias and Iranian war material in Syria.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin

BoJo Under Pressure, Landmark Syria Trial, Gruyère Row

👋 Ahoj!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Boris Johnson faces rising calls to resign, an ex Syrian colonel is convicted in a landmark torture trial, and the U.S. finds loopholes in the Gruyère cheese label. We also mark 10 years since the Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Tuscany.

[*Czech]

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moisi

From Taliban To Taiwan, The Limits Of Military Power

China is beefing up its military arsenal, with Taiwan as its target. However, as with the continued difficulty to control the terrain in Afghanistan, we increasingly see that military power is far from ensuring the hegemony hoped for by stronger parties.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "How many divisions does the Pope have?" once famously asked Joseph Stalin, highlighting that despite religious or political authority, military force can always prevail in geopolitics. However, in the 21st century, one can legitimately ask what military force is for.

In Afghanistan, more than three months after the Taliban's lightning victory, terrorist violence continues. It seems that members of the defeated regular army have joined the ranks of the "fundamentalist international" to continue the fight against the Taliban. In short, military victory on the ground has not solved anything. The Taliban face the resilience of those nostalgic for freedom and progress on the one hand, and Islamic fanatics on the other.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Shelling In Syria, Bolsonaro Accused, Zuckerverse

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.

[*Danish]

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